Jalandhar, March 1: The home crowd had plenty of reasons to celebrate as favourites Sher-E-Punjab launched their campaign in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey (WSH) in style, with a 5-2 win over Chennai Cheetahs. The scoreline didn’t really do justice to the close tussle which took place on the field, as expected, here at the Surjeet Singh Hockey Stadium.
For Sher-E-Punjab, the scorers were Mandeep Antil (7th minute), Harpreet Nagra (34th minute), Prabhjot Singh (49th & 70th minutes) and Gagan Ajit Singh (57th minute) while Pakistani star Imran Warsi struck a brace for the Cheetahs, both his goals coming off drag-flicks in the 24th and 63 minute respectively.
For the last 46 minutes, the Chennai Cheetahs forwards and midfield twisted and turned with the ball only to find themselves confronted by an impenetrable thicket of blue-shirted Sher-E-Punjab defenders. During that time the Shers extended their scoreline to 4-1 after taking an early lead with a suave Mandeep Antil goal that seemed to preface a night of dominance. Skipper Prabhjot Singh’s talent as a dribbler and a provocateur proved decisive in giving his side the handsome win.
Chennai had two clear chances to make a comeback in the first half but they conceded a penalty stroke with one minutes remaining for the interval. Sher-E-Punjab star Deepak Thakur was obstructed from taking a clear shot at the goal and the umpire had no hesitation to point towards the dreaded spot. Harpreet Nagra made his entry into the record book by converting the first penalty stroke of the Bridgestone WSH.
For Chennai there were no such clear-cut openings in the second half despite their strategy to deploy five players in the rival D. Star striker Gagan Ajit Singh celebrated his daughter’s fourth birthday with a cracker – it was trademark Gagan scorcher from top of the D, which went racing past the hapless Cheetah goalkeeper Jasbir Singh. Interestingly, the moment the ball reached Gagan, the spectators started applauding in anticipation of a thundering shot for goal No.4.
The Cheetah, instead, were reduced to individual efforts that came to nothing. Brent Livermore and his boys had run out of time.
Preview of the match:
A power-packed clash is on the cards in the second match of the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey league as Sher-E-Punjab take on Chennai Cheetahs at home on Thursday.
Sher-E-Punjab have been boosted by the arrival of Pakistani forward Tariq Aziz. They have an incredible attacking lineup, spearheaded by the brilliant striker Gagan Ajit Singh, speedy forward Deepak Thakur, skipper Prabhjot Singh, Aziz, Malaysian star Mohd Rodzhanizam Bin Mat Radzi, and Australian Matthew Hotchkis who plays effortlessly in the midfield as well. Shers’ coach Rajinder Singh is known for his attacking brand of hockey and he will surely be looking for winning full points at the Surjeet Singh Hockey Stadium.
Sher-E-Punjab are charged up for the clash with the Cheetahs after a virgorous training camp for 15 days. Star Gagan Ajit Singh said, “Most of our players were in the camp from day one, and it helped all of us tremendously. We have a good team and a great platform to play. I’m happy with my form and am striking the goals in practice well.”
Chennai Cheetahs’ captain Brent Livermore will be the lynchpin for the visitors attack, coach Jose Brasa is familiar with the styles of most of the Indian players, having coached the Indian team not so long ago. Besides, Vikram Pillay, Sye Imran Warsi, Mark Harris, Joseph Reardon and Veersamy Raja will also be leading the formidable charge for the Cheetahs. Watch out for an nail-biting finish between the Shers and Cheetahs.